Had Jesse and Celine actually met six months after the events of “Before Sunrise” as planned, had their relationship gone horribly wrong to the point where one of them couldn’t even remember the other, and had they both been neurosurgeons, it might look something like “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time.” This cool-headed debut from filmmaker Lili Horvát is Hungary’s submission for the 2021 Academy Award for Best International Feature. Watch the official trailer, exclusive to IndieWire, below.
With the gloomy echoes of Krzysztof Kieślowski, Horvát follows a doctor named Márta around Budapest — not unlike how Hitchcock chased Kim Novak in “Vertigo” — who’s convinced a perfect stranger is a man she met abroad and had plans to meet up with back in her home city. The mouthful of a title belies the filmmaker’s stark approach to complex material in this haunting cinematic puzzle.
From IndieWire’s Toronto International Film Festival review: “Márta Vizy (Natasa Stork) is a neurosurgeon, single and childless and approaching 40, who’s just returned to Budapest after an extended residency across the ocean in New Jersey. She’s returned to Hungary spurred by a chance encounter back in the United States with a fellow doctor she met at a conference in the United States: She believes that, two months ago, they agreed to meet for a rendezvous on the Liberty Bridge, which connects Buda and Pest across the River Danube. But when Márta finally manages to track János (Viktor Bodó) down, he has no idea who the hell she is, and claims she must be mistaken. This is immediately, and understandably, concerning for Márta, who’s just uprooted her whole life to return to her home country to meet a strange man, and now feels like a crazy person.”
The revered festival run for “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of TIme” began with a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, followed by its North American bow at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Award at the Warsaw International Film Festival with Horvát winning the Gold Hugo in the New Directors Competition at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Greenwich Entertainment will open the film on January 22 in select theaters and virtual cinemas.